Thursday, April 26, 2012

U.S. Senate Passes Postal Reform

The United States Senate voted yesterday to pass the Postal Reform Act. The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives where it awaits an uncertain fate.

As reported by The Washington Post, the Postal Reform Act will make sweeping reforms to the United States Postal Service (USPS). It would, among other things, permit the ending of Saturday mail deliveries in two years if the USPS determines it financially necessary, and would place restrictions on the amount of facilities that can be closed. For example, USPS cannot close a rural post office unless the next-nearest location is no more than 10 miles away. It would also maintain the current nonprofit postage rate.

The bill, passed 62 to 37, is meant to preserve the cash-strapped USPS. The organization has been on the verge of financial collapse for years, and it is no longer able to sustain delivery operations that still process 554 million pieces of mail a day. That is why the Postal Service has pushed to end Saturday mail. While the Senate version of the bill delays that decision, the House bill sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) would permit the USPS to immediately end Saturday deliveries. A strong majority of Republican representatives, including Issa, oppose the current Senate bill.

The House has until May 15, when the USPS will resume closing its facilities, to pass the bill. This is part of its plan to cut more than $22 million in costs by 2015. Direct mail has been in a decline in recent years as e-mail has increased in popularity. According to statistics from the Postal Service, only 168 million pieces of mail were delivered last year, compared to 202.8 billion a decade ago.

You can read the full story in The Washington Post.

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